There are basically two kinds of people in the world – studs and fighters. At the outset, let me clarify that they are neither mutually exclusive nor exhaustive. Those that are neither stud nor fighter usually end up as losers, so let’s leave them out of the analysis. People who are both stud and fighter are special. Found extremely rarely. Hence let’s leave them out too.
So we shall confine ourselves to people who are either stud or fighter. For a start, I guess we need to define the terms. Let me find a way to define them without sounding arrogant (obviously I’m in one of these two categories so I’m biased towards that so getting unbiased definitions of both is tough).
Ok so studs are people who have the knack of finding the easy way out. Who have the ability/knack of figuring out the shortest/easiest path. Who have some god-given ability to do things quicker than others, or the ability to get their work done by others, and the like. You get the drift right? They are basically smart people who can do things more easily than others.
Fighters are those who realize that they don’t have the innate studness that studs have. However, they are extremely ambitious and don’t want to be left behind because of the lack of studness. And they try to make up for it by sheer hard work. They regularly burn the midnight oil, cut down on their “other activities” and focus on the task at hand. And by putting maajor fight (as we say in IITese), they make it.
So on one hand you have the studs who have managed to take the smart way out all their lives. Not that they don’t work, but they do what some people call “smart work”. And on the other you have the fighters. Not as gifted, but with the ability to work like the devil. And with tremendous focus and determination.
Ok so the point is that for you to have a good time at work, you and your boss need to belong to the same category. The basic thing is that every boss assumes everyone is like him. So if he is a stud, he will assume that everyone reporting to him is also a stud. And expect them to work fast, be creative, get new ideas etc. And will put pressure on the subordinate in this manner.
On the other hand, a fighter boss assumes that the subordinates are all fighters. Will expect them to put extremely long hours (which studs are incapable of doing), discourage short cuts (which is what studs live by), are extremely organized and meticulous and even if the subordinate shows off some studness by doing something quickly, the fighter boss refuses to get impressed. The fighter also grows up to measure everything in terms of effort. It’s all about the group coming together and going through a process for him. If you find a short cut to do something, you aren’t putting enough effort.
The same can be extended to the organization level also. You have stud organizations, and fighter organizations, and the characteristic of an organization depend on the characteristics of its founders, its management, and its employees. Once again, a stud would be better off working for a stud organization and similarly with fighters. Corporate finance division (the inside the wall part) of an investment bank is a good example of a fighter organization. Extremely long hours, tedious work requiring loads of concentration (I know of people spending hours making sure all the full stops are in place in a presentation), not much scope for short cuts or easy way out. If you are working for one such, you better be a fighter, or become a fighter, or find yourself a new job!
The shiva purana (correct me if i’m wrong – not sure which text it is) gives us an excellent example of studs and fighters, when Shiva and Parvati ask their kids to go round the world. Subramanya, the eternal fighter, quickly jumps on his peacock and slavedrives it to go round the earth as soon as possible (don’t you pity the poor peacock?). Ganesha, the stud, just convinces his parents that they are his world and goes round them (lucky rat!).
Yesterday’s business standard contains an excellent op-ed on this topic of fighter bosses. Do read it.